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Office of Undergraduate Research

Example abstracts

In preparing your abstract, the most important part of the process is to work with your mentor to get feedback early and often—people with experience in your discipline (like your mentor) will be able to help you.


If you are just getting started, here are some examples from different disciplines. The following abstracts were selected by faculty mentors as good examples from:


Physical sciences


Testing the forage selection of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) to advise vegetation plans for connectivity corridors
As part of the Snoqualmie Pass East Project (SPEP), nearly 30 fish and wildlife crossing-structures are being constructed along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate-90.  Crossing-structures in this area could make major strides in rejoining ecosystems that have been disconnected for more than 50 years.  American pikas (Ochotona princeps) are being monitored for the SPEP because they have specific habitat requirements, are poor dispersers, and have naturally low genetic diversity.  Making the proposed crossing-structures “pika-friendly” will encourage pikas to use the structures, and aid in reconnecting populations.  Recent research suggests that the presence of quality vegetation can help improve the health and viability of pika populations, but currently there is little information on pika diet within the Cascades.  During the summer and fall of 2015, I completed 70 cafeteria-style preference experiments on 10 different plant species, to test which plants would be the most suitable for pikas.  Pikas showed a preference for Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Sitka alder (Alnus virdis), willow (Salix), and black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera trichocarpa).  Samples of each of the tested plant species are currently being analyzed for nutritional content and the presence of certain plant secondary metabolites (PSMs).  PSMs are naturally-occurring chemicals within plants that usually deter herbivores, but pikas are actually thought to select for plants with high levels of certain metabolites.  The results from the preference trials and nutritional analyses will help identify which plants should be recommended for planting on the upcoming crossing-structures and which plant components pikas are selecting for when they forage.


The Effects of Excess Dihydrotestosterone on Adipose and Uterine tissue in a PCOS Mouse Model
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects women of reproducing age and is characterized by polycystic ovaries, obesity, and unusually high levels of testosterone. In this experiment the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on female C57Bl/6 mice were observed in adipose tissue and uterine tissue. Mice were treated for twelve-weeks with a placebo or DHT pellet inserted under the skin. The weight of each mouse was measured weekly. After twelve weeks the mice were euthanized and adipose and uterine tissue samples were removed and embedded in paraffin wax. The tissues were then sectioned, and stained using a hemotoxylin and eosin staining protocol.  The weight of the DHT mice were significantly higher than the weight of the placebo mice, suggesting that excess DHT causes an increase in body weight for C57BL/6 mice. We hypothesize that DHT treated mice will have larger adipose cells and altered uterine tissue compared to the placebo mice. The difference in cell size for each tissue was examined and we observed that the brown and inguinal fat cells of the DHT mice to be qualitatively larger compared to the placebo cells. Preliminary results suggest there may be a difference in the number of uterine glands between the two treatment groups. The number of uterine glands was found to be significantly reduced in the DHT treatment group as compared to the placebo. This project aims to explore the effects of DHT on the body mass and reproductive cycle of mice in order to achieve a better understanding in relation to PCOS.


Modeling Energetic O+ Ions Interacting With Titan’s Atmosphere
Energetic particles from Saturn’s magnetosphere enter Titan’s atmosphere where they heat, ionize, and dissociate neutral atoms. This process affects the chemistry of Titan’s atmosphere, and is related to the energy deposited by incident energetic particles. Unfortunately, the various ways in which energetic particles, and in particular, O+ ions, enter and interact with the atmosphere have been largely unexplored by computational models despite a plethora of measured data from Cassini flybys. In an effort to investigate energetic particle behavior, a 3D model of O+ ions in Titan’s magnetosphere was created to simulate how ions might enter the atmosphere. Using these simulations, we were able to measure power flux across the surface of Titan’s atmosphere. Ions that entered the atmosphere, characterized by their initial energy and angle of incidence, were tracked as they deposited their energy into the atmosphere through interactions with neutral N2 molecules. Initial results indicate approximately 5% of starting particles passed into the atmosphere, achieving an average energy flux which agrees with the results of other models. Further, a maximum energy deposition between 10-50 eV occurs at an altitude of 1300 km, with the distribution of particles’ incident angles centered around 50-60 degrees.


Social sciences

Uneven Development and Community Development Block Grants
Who are the winners and losers when it comes to community development block grant expenditures?  Amidst the massive bureaucracy, extensive planning and reporting required to secure these grants, it is not unusual for these funds to be passed through several planning stage amendments before being utilized. In the process, value is lost resulting in less benefit realized by program targets. We draw on two bodies of sociological theory, Domhoff’s theory of local power elites, and Logan and Molotch’s theory of growth coalitions, to analyze the political economy of uneven development in Lakewood, WA. It is within these arenas we expect to find the loss of value from grant funding. Our analysis is enhanced by aggregate comparisons of community development block grant spending by the city of Lakewood, between 1998 and 2016. Within this timeframe, we will be looking at who benefits most from the use of these funds. Primary beneficiaries will likely include: The intended lower to middle income target population for CDBGs, the city of Lakewood itself, and contractors and businesses providing services for the city of Lakewood. Our data are drawn from the United States Census Bureau’s Decennial Census 2000 and 2015, and various years of the American Community Survey between 2005 and 2015, as well as Census Bureau data on local government finances. We also analyze City of Lakewood City Council voting records, Lakewood City Council Meetings Minutes, local election campaign contributions, project reports, and vendor contracts.

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Latino Lives Matter?: Donde Esta el Movimiento que da Valor a las Vidas Latinas? (Where is the Latino Lives Matter Movement?)
While there is currently a lively movement surrounding the issue of Black Lives Matter, which is rooted in the extent of police brutality targeting African-Americans, statistics show that Latinos suffer high levels of police brutality as well. We explore why the Latino population has failed to generate a social movement around the issue of police brutality. We hypothesize that the lack of a Latino Lives Matter movement is rooted in cultural factors, lack of media (Internet) access, and concurrent social movements that animate the Latino experience. In this study we conduct qualitative research through indirect observations. Observations will be collected through reports, article, blogs, and excerpts from social media outlets as well as the use of Bureau of Justice statistics (BJS). In addition, there will be a survey (upon HSRC approval) that will address the current ideals of Latinos and the potentiality for a Latino Lives Matter movement to arise. We are expecting at least 30 Latino participants from Central Washington University to complete a multi-part survey concentrating on our three areas of focus. We expect our results to be concurrent with our hypothesis that there will be a positive correlation between the absence of a movement and cultural factors, media access, and concurrent social movements and involvement in concurrent social movements.

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Billy Murray, the Phonograph, and Forgotten Memories of American Recorded Music

This presentation analyzes the early years of American recorded music through the career of Billy Murray (1877-1954). With Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877, new musical styles and recording technologies advanced, spread and changed at a much faster pace than was previously possible. Ragtime, blues and jazz became what are known today as the first music styles recorded. However, one important musical movement has been missing from America’s collective musical memory- the novelty and comedic songs of the “phonograph singers”. But why is this phase of American music forgotten? Through newspaper articles, letters, and other sources from the time, this paper examines Billy Murray’s career from 1902 to the end of the 1920s. Though this, the evolution of recording technology and musical tastes in the early twentieth century unfold and give insights into the true story of America’s early music recordings. Although the success of the phonograph’s novelty music was short-lived and quickly forgotten, its impact in America’s cultural history should not be neglected. By analyzing the rise and fall of the phonograph, the popular conception of American music history can be challenged and re-evaluated, showing that a substantial wave of music lies somewhere between ragtime and jazz. By considering the popular and successful career of Billy Murray, the phonograph’s novelty-styled genre of music proves to be critical to the technological, social and cultural development of recorded music and should not be disregarded in the historical record of music or how it is commonly remembered.

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Indian Classical Music and Philip Glass

This paper traces the effects of Philip Glass’s encounter with Indian classical music upon his compositional output through three periods of his career. Drawing on analysis of works from each period as well as information from Glass’s most recent autobiography, this paper clarifies the distinction between overt and assimilated influence and suggests that, although Glass acknowledges the overt influence of Indian music on his early works, this influence pervades his entire body of work. Analysis of the early works reveals his emphasis on rhythm-based structure, focusing on his use of additive rhythmic techniques. The middle period works demonstrate an increased desire to combine his rhythm-centered style with the harmony-centered construction common in Western music, which he studied under Nadia Boulanger. The final period exemplifies Glass’s mature style, which reflects a combination of both Indian and Western techniques. This mature style suggests Glass’s assimilation of Indian classical techniques and style, which directly contrasts the early, overt nature of the Indian influence.

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A Prayer for Purpose

This presentation will allow the audience to experience a four-minute work of original choreography performed live, as well as a seven-minute presentation on both the artistic and choreographic process of its creation. This dance was originally created for PED 301 Choreography, which teaches an integrated arts method of creating original dances. My dance is in the style of Tanztheater or “dance theatre,” which blends elements of both concert dance and dramatic performance to create a multifaceted work of art. In this work, titled A Prayer for Purpose, I have explored the artist’s life; specifically, the struggle to create art of a meaningful and lasting nature which touches the hearts of the audience. Inspired by the charcoal sketch titled Self Portrait by 20th century German artist, Käthe Kollwitz, and Emily Dickinson’s poem “If I can stop one heart from breaking,” I created the dance by drawing out significant images and ideas from these works as well as my own artistic journey to generate a basic phrase of movement. By augmenting this basic phrase using the choreographic devices learned in the course, the four-minute dance that is A Prayer for Purpose was born.

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Jack of All Trades

Because of limited funding and performance space, many Broadway-style musicals require the pit orchestra woodwind musicians to play multiple instruments. For example, the 1985 version of Singing in the Rain calls for double reeds (oboe and English horn) and single reeds (saxophones and clarinets) to be played by one person, which in today’s world is an extremely rare skill set. In the Seattle professional world, there are only a few musicians who play multiple woodwinds, and only two of those musicians can play double and single reeds. Even though musicians who are skilled at multiple instruments are necessary to produce most musicals, specialized training and classical repertoire for these multifaceted musicians is lacking. To my knowledge, there is only one composition that requires this particular skill set. I worked with a composer, graduate student Elizabeth Hile, to create a piece that alternates instruments with separate movements using clarinet, alto saxophone, oboe, and flute. By working with a composer, I learned how to explain the unique traits and limitations of each instrument, the challenge of switching instruments, and gained a better understanding of the process of working directly with a composer. With a piece that alternates instruments, I was able to begin developing and displaying the skills required of pit orchestra musicians, and add a new, unique piece to a genre with minuscule repertoire.
I will be performing selected movements from the finished piece, Suite by Elizabeth Hile.

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Constructed objects

Ultra light split board binding

A split board binding is used to link two halves of a theoretically cut in half snow board together and fasten an alpine touring boot used for both skiing and mountaineering in place. The binding is removable so that one can alpine tour uphill on skins and be assembled at the top so that the rider can link both halves of the board together and bind their alpine touring ski boot into place to the split board. The binding system is required to be ultra light for Alpine Touring purposes and still be strong enough to withstand the rigors of jumping off a vertical 7.5 ft cliff and landing on compact snow. The ultra light split board binding has resulted in a finished working product that at this point has been tested using both rider and lab testing methods. Testing is focused on the coupling beam and has been dimensionally checked for permanent deformation of which no deformation has taken place, which indicates the elastic limit of 73,000 psi has not been exceeded during field tests. Laboratory testing has been implemented using strain gauges to test for stress in the binding and has concluded that material does not yield when a vertical force of 850lbs and 450lbs of horizontal force is applied to the coupling beam. A resulted stress of 45,000 psi has resulted in the beam in shear in vertical loading and 43,000 psi from horizontal loading.

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Icarus: Non-Invasive Angle of Attack Indicator

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a statement that personal and homemade aircraft accidents could be reduced significantly with the addition of Angle of Attack information for the pilot. Installing most available devices on modern aircraft requires extensive fitting and modification at great expense. Furthermore, modification of older and vintage aircraft may not be desirable. The introduction of a simple, non-invasive device that provides the same information would increase safety and be marketable. Utilizing this opportunity and setting a range of requirements including cost, weight, ease of installation, and reliability, analysis was performed on different methods purposed to accomplish the stated design requirements. The solution selected uses a Hall Device switch (a magnetically actuated electronic switch), a 100 decibel buzzer contained by an interior component, and a vane assembly with magnetic base for position reference on the exterior component. The device transmits airflow information outside the cockpit to the pilot and mounts non-invasively. Adhering the two components to opposite sides of the canopy provides reliable data to the pilot in glider type aircraft, multiengine aircraft, and some single engine aircraft. The Icarus angle of attack indicator proves that the concept of a non-invasive angle of attack indicator is viable and serves its purpose as an experimental aviation device. Further development of the concept should strive to reduce size, increase adjustability, and decrease manufacturing difficulty.

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Fashion design

Tierra Ajena

The background of the design is based on the culture of Nicaragua traditional wear. Nicaragua women attire consisted of a skirt that wrapped around the body with an asymmetrical kerchief and a top. The design is a mixture of Nicaragua traditional wear and high quality embroidery bead work. The silhouette of the design is slim, the details of the design consist of cohesive separates a high waist diagonal skirt, along with a strapless princess bodice with attached lace that connects to a mandarin collar with extension. The fabric clings and flows around the body that conveys rhythm, unity and variety. The color of the fabric has bold geometrical shapes with very bright colors consisting of black, yellow, purple, green, white and orange. The process of designing this garment was first doing research on traditional wear in Nicaragua and different type of beadwork. The technique used is draping and beadwork. The main aesthetics properties of the design are the texture of the fabric, colors used and lace. The contribution of the design is implementing on Nicaragua traditional wear by designing a high waist diagonal skirt along with a bodice. The design is refine by the use of bead embroidery throughout the garment. This specific design is innovative because of the mixture of Nicaragua traditional wear with decorated bead embroidery.

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